Learning to Work Through Your Excuses

By Krista Stryker

I’m passionate about helping people work through their excuses and make progress toward their health and fitness goals, whether that’s to establish a workout habit or get a new personal record. 

Changing habits isn’t easy work. It requires a willingness to change and stick with the process, even when it gets tough. But the results can last a lifetime.

Excuses can stem from fears around failure. The underlying worry is that if you try at something and don’t succeed, you’ll have wasted your time and made a fool of yourself along the way. 

So where does that fear of failure come from? 

For many people, it starts with what psychologists call a fixed mindset; the belief that your qualities (like strength and athleticism) are innate, and will stay the same no matter what you do. To work through the fear of failure, you need to develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can change your traits and abilities if you try. 

The reality is that we all have excuses when it comes to health and fitness. As someone who now gets immense joy from movement, even I have days when I want to do anything but push myself through a hard workout. But whether your goal is to finally establish a consistent workout habit or to crush a new personal record, the first step is to recognize excuses for what they are: avoidance of hard work. 

Dodge the work too much, and you’ll struggle to make progress. It takes practice, but there’s always a way to make your health and fitness a priority.

If your excuse is…

You don’t have time. While some of us are busier than ever right now, juggling work, family, and other home priorities, others have more time than usual due to a lack of commute or change in their daily routine. No matter what your daily life, we all can find ten to twenty minutes a day to exercise. 

Credit: Tamara Muth King

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are my workout of choice for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The key to shorter workouts is to increase the intensity. By including challenging exercises like burpees, jump roping, and plyometric exercises like squat jumps and mountain climbers in your workout, you can get in a full-body workout in an extremely short amount of time.

You don’t have equipment. Most of us around the world are still stuck at home right now due to the global pandemic, and lack of equipment is the most common excuse I’ve heard lately. If you’re used to using the cardio and weight machines at the gym, bodyweight workouts might take some getting used to, but they’re much more effective than most people think. Seemingly basic exercises like bodyweight squats, push-ups, and plyometric (jumping) exercises help to build strength, raise conditioning levels, and increase overall fitness. I’ve been training using mostly my own bodyweight for nearly a decade now, and most of the thousands of workouts on my website, 12MinuteAthlete.com, use minimal or no equipment and are ideal for at-home training.

If you do want to add some equipment to your home workouts, a few basic pieces like pull-up bars, a medicine ball, a jump rope, and a few sets of dumbbells can offer a lifetime of challenges. You can also get creative by using household items as makeshift workout equipment (use stairs can in place of plyo boxes, two chairs as a makeshift dip bar, a heavy backpack in place of a sandbag, etc.).

You’re female/you’re too old/you’ve never been athletic. This category of excuses really has more to do with your current identity around fitness. This may be due to things you’ve heard society generalize (girls can’t do pull-ups) or something a peer told you when you were a kid (you’ll never be able to run fast). Whatever your current level, know that you can always make progress by taking small, consistent action steps forward.

If you really, truly want to become someone who works out consistently and (hopefully) enjoys it, you have to change your mindset and the belief of who you are deep down first. Creating small, doable goals will help transform your belief about yourself and help you prioritize your health and fitness once and for all.

Learning to work through your excuses is a skill just like anything else. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. You might just surprise yourself with all that you’re capable of.

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